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17 September 2009

Great Danes

Mayor Ritt Bjerregaard on green Copenhagen

By Ritt Bjerregaard

Denmark has long been a front-runner in the production of clean technologies and renewable energy. Over the past 25 years, we have shown that it is possible to create economic growth at the same time as reducing energy consumption and increasing the use of renewable energy.

I am proud that Copenhagen has set itself the ambitious goal of becoming the world’s first CO2-neutral capital city by 2025. Politicians cannot achieve this alone – it demands great effort from everyone. We are inviting the business community and the city’s inhabitants to work closely with us to demonstrate that growth and climate-friendly initiatives can go hand in hand.

Already, 1.2 million bicycles are ridden around Copenhagen every day. We are constantly improving the bike lanes and encouraging citizens to cycle. Our goal is that 50 per cent of the city’s citizens will cycle every day, saving Copenhagen 80,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year. Copenhagen’s children need to be raised to be climate-aware citizens and have the benefit of eco-refurbished schools, institutions and sports facilities. The world has recognised Copenhagen’s forward-looking actions. By the end of his year, the city will have hosted no fewer than three major climate summits, including COP15 – the UN Climate Change Summit – and the Copenhagen Climate Summit for Mayors, where scientific experts and world leaders will meet to discuss solutions to climate challenges.

Half the world’s population now lives in cities and the proportion is growing rapidly. Cities are responsible for up to 80 per cent of global CO2 emissions, and so any solution to the climate crisis has to involve them actively. All the conventions in Copenhagen this year are platforms for countries and cities to show leadership in the climate-change debate. I sincerely hope that the summits will provide us with even more will to fight the challenges we are facing right now.

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Ritt Bjerregaard has been mayor of Copenhagen since 2006

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